5 Tips For Breaking Into The Television Industry
I have been freelancing in television production for about 3 years now. I started off as a Production Assistant and have worked for shows on networks that include ABC, NBC and Starz. But it took me a couple years after graduating college to land a paying job. Television is a hard industry to break into, we are mostly freelancers and hire people via connection or word of mouth. If I can turn back the hands in time, with what I know now, I am positive it would not have taken me as long to get my foot in the door. With that being said I want to share with you some tips on breaking into the television industry….let's get into it.
1. Contact everyone in the industry you have made a connection with.
Whether you have done internships, or were active in your school’s television program, you should reach out to any and everyone you have gotten to know. Not just the big shots. Of course at the end of your internship you should give your higher up a thank you card and leave him or her with your resume. But don’t forget to stay in touch with the assistants and fellow interns. While they won’t be able to hire you, they can refer you for a job they turned down. Most television people are freelancers. Once I accept a job and I’m booked for 6 months, anything else I am offered I recommend someone I know that would be great for the job.
2. #Dontpanic, you can still intern.
If you haven’t interned, it’s not too late. It’s easy to get an unpaid job, everyone loves free help. Unlike other industries, you do not have to be in school to land an internship. From interning, you may get offered a job like “additional production assistant” and eventually land a staff job.
3. Use free resources, like Facebook!
Now you ask “how do I get an internship?” Facebook groups are a great resource. Plenty Assistant Directors and Production Coordinators post in Facebook groups when looking for an extra set of hands. Try joining “Local Zero Heros”, “I Need Crew” or “Production 911”. Also look for groups specific to your city. You can land an internship or even some additional work through these groups.
4. Stay persistent.
There is a thin line between persistence and stalking and you need to walk it like Naomi on a runway. Sometimes you may feel stalkerish, but again, we are freelancers. One day I’ll have no clue what my next job is, the next day I can be booked for 6 months and need a Production Assistant. Sending emails every couple weeks to a month to those you are confident would hire you if they are booked is not stalking, it's actually quite effective.
5. Training or job placement programs.
Take advantage of any programs in your city that offer training or job placement. In New York, we have the “Made In New York PA Training Program” that both prepares students to be a Production Assistant and helps with job placement upon completion of the program.
Hope this was helpful, let me know if you have any additional questions about television! Kelsey and Meghan also work in the industry and we are all happy to help.